Life-Improving Benefits of a Cartilage Transplant

Cartilage is the primary connective tissue in the human body. Not only does it hold important joints like your knees together, it provides stability, cushioning, and smooth, pain-free, movement. When damage occurs to this important tissue, it can limit how you make your way through the world.

At our practice, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Timothy Wilson, specializes in two of your more important joints — your knees and your shoulders. With the goal of keeping these joints functioning as smoothly as possible, we offer a wide range of solutions, including cartilage transplantation.

Here’s a look at how, and when, we can replace the cartilage in your knee, giving you back that spring in your step.

The problem with cartilage 

The best way to describe the role that cartilage plays within your joints is that it’s the glue that holds everything together. Unlike glue, however, your cartilage is a slippery, gel-like substance that’s made up of 65% to 80% water. This viscosity is what facilitates movement between the bones in your joints, allowing them to glide against one another with relative ease.

Your knees also contain another form of cartilage — your menisci. Each of your knees contains two-wedge shaped pieces of this tough cartilage, which act as shock absorbers between your thigh bone and your shin bone.

Despite its integral and active role in your knees, your cartilage has one major drawback — it doesn’t contain any blood vessels. What this means is that cartilage isn’t able to heal and rebuild itself like your other tissues because it isn’t connected to any of your body’s regenerative resources.

Replacing what’s lost

If your cartilage breaks down or is damaged in an accident, there are several ways we can approach the problem. For example, if osteoarthritis has robbed your knees of most of its cartilage, we may recommend a total or partial knee replacement, in which we replace many of the components of your joint.

If your damage is more limited, say a torn meniscus or a small area of cartilage that has been affected, a cartilage transplant may be the perfect solution.

At our practice, we offer several different types of cartilage transplantation, including:

OATS surgeries

OATS stands for osteochondral autograft transplantation or osteochondral allograft transplantation. During these procedures, we clear away your damaged cartilage and replace it with cartilage from your own knee (autograft) or an outside source (allograft).

For allograft transplants, we turn to BioCartilage® Extracellular Matrix, which contains the extracellular matrix that’s found in articular cartilage, as well as key components, such as type II collagen, proteoglycans, and additional cartilaginous growth factors.

Meniscus transplant

If you’ve sustained damage to your meniscus, we can clear away the damaged tissue and replace your meniscus with one from a tissue bank.

To determine whether a cartilage transplant is right for you, the first step is to come see us so that we can evaluate the extent of the damage in your knee. From there, we can decide the best route to getting you back on your feet and moving without pain. To get started, simply contact our office in Lexington, Kentucky, to set up an appointment.

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